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Get to know A Bit About Britain - an idiosyncratic view of places to visit in Britain, British history - and stuff. Warts and all. Where shall we go today?

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Keld Chapel

Keld, Chantry Chapel, Shap, visit Cumbria
The key to Keld Chapel is hanging by the front door of the house opposite.  It’s that kind of place, if you know what I mean.  Keld is a tiny Cumbrian hamlet just outside the straggling village of Shap and a little south east of the long abandoned Shap Abbey.  Travellers on the M6 will be familiar with Shap Fell – not the kindest place to be driving in bad weather, but offering spectacular views on a clear day.

‘Keld’ is generally thought to derive from kelda, old Scandinavian for spring, or well.  The hamlet was possibly once larger than it is now and may well have existed in Roman times.

Keld, Chapel, Cumbria, bit about Britain
No one knows a great deal about this chapel.  It is probably 16th century and thought to be a ‘chantry chapel’ – set up purely as a place to say masses for departed souls.  It was common practice in pre-reformation Roman Catholic Britain for those with enough money to pay a priest or church for masses to be said for them, or their nearest and dearest, but there could be so many of these that there was a danger of prayers for the dead overwhelming a church timetable.  Hence, setting up a dedicated chapel was a good wheeze.  It has been suggested that Keld Chapel was associated with Shap Abbey before the latter was dissolved in 1540 – which would make sense.  It has also been suggested that the chapel was set up during the brief reign of Mary Tudor (1553-58), when England had an official, but transitory, flirtation with Catholicism.  Perhaps, some say, the window over the altar table came from the ruins of Shap Abbey.

Keld, Cumbria, Scandinavian, Roman, settlement
In short, I can tell you very little about Keld Chapel: except that it’s an intriguing place to visit if you happen to be somewhere in this part of north west England and a little off the popular tourist track – or if you feel in need of a dose of quirky heritage.  It was actually a dwelling for some time – and was also used to house navvies working on the construction of the nearby railway.

We almost lost it.  In 1917, Lord Lonsdale wanted it demolished because he claimed it obstructed his carriages on their way to his shooting lodge on Rafland Moor.


Now, Keld Chapel is in the care of the NationalTrust; and I’m glad to say there isn’t a tacky ornament, tea-towel or bar of lavender soap in sight.

Post box in wall, Keld, England

Linking to InSPIREd Sunday

29 comments:

  1. Oh dear. I camped there twice and didn't even notice the chapel. This was many years ago when such things were of only slight interest to me but even so....Thank you for filling in that gap in my knowledge; it looks an interesting place.

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  2. This looks wonderful and such a restful little Chapel. I love places that rely on the honesty principle as I always feel more engaged and warm towards them and leave a donation for upkeep rather than places that are monetised and made into tourist attractions. Sometimes it just lovely to 'feel' a place on your own terms rather than be directed or supervised.

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  3. What a lovely simple church in a lovely setting. Tom The Backroads Traveller

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  4. i enjoy the winding lane - what a picturesque area. ( :

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  5. Your first image of Keld Chapel is too beautiful Mike, the simple vases of flowers in the stone windowsills with the light streaming through, perfection.. wish I'd taken it :) As you say the chapel is all the more endearing because it hasn't been turned into a tourist trap.

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  6. i like the interior scene! quaint.

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  7. Hi Mike!
    This chapel is a wonderfully humble love this ... Regards from distant Polish ...

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  8. Thank goodness Lord Lonsdale was overruled. It's the kind of place I like to visit.

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  9. I'm glad Lord Lonsdale didn't get his way and this simple but pleasing building has been preserved.

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  10. Not somewhere I've ever been, but it sounds an interesting place to visit - I'm glad it wasn't demolished, and glad there isn't any lavender soap in sight either!

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  11. I love all things stone and also all things very old. this is amazing to me.. we have nothing this old here. it is amazing they built these beautiful buildings so many years ago. the first photo is simply beautiful

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  12. It certainly looks like a peaceful chapel.

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  13. So interesting. I love the stone on the inside. There are so many wonderful places to visit in Britain. I never get tired of visiting...

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  14. Beautiful and simple. Found some more of late one at Glastonbury Abbey

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  15. Clearly you have something against lavender soap.

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  16. It is too bad there isn't something written about the history of the place.

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  17. That old stonework is magnificent. And am I glad Lord Lonsdale didn't get his way, because like ripples in a pond, you're able to share this particular ripple with us :)

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  18. Very beautiful and interesting architecture.
    I am delighted.
    Greetings from Polish.
    Lucia

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  19. What stunning stonework, especially in your first photo. What a lovely room it is. I'm always eager to see what interesting and well crafted structure you offer in such an enjoyable post for us.

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  20. Beautiful place! As for the overabundance of masses for the deceased, we had a similar problem where I go to church, even in this day and age! Very nice blog you have here. :)

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  21. Hi Mike, Thanks for visiting. You remarked on the mix of gothic and modern styles in St Pauls' cathedral, that has probably come about because the cathedral construction was begun in the late 1800's but through lack of funds it was never completed until the 1970's. And you are right, the chancel area is the modern part. Here is a link if you are interested. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Paul's_Cathedral,_Dunedin

    I must say I enjoy looking at the ancient sites you have in Britain, and this chapel is no exception. Our own European history is just over 200 years old. Thanks for sharing it.
    Diana

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  22. A beautiful building nestled in pastoral prettiness. Thanks for sharing.

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  23. It's beautiful - it very much reminds me of a tiny church on Exmoor where I went to a funeral a couple of years ago. The church (or perhaps it was a chapel) was so small that most of the mourners had to stand outside and have the service relayed via speaker. It was an amazing setting and very humbling to hear the service echo across the moor.

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  24. What a pretty little chapel. It appears the outer wall is a bit wonky in the photo of the road going closely by. Such old buildings and stonework are so beautiful. It's a pretty village and I like the bright red post box.

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  25. I used to stay at a youth hostel at Keld, it was absolutely wonderful. It's very sad that the YHA hasn't been able to keep so many of its more interesting and quirky hostels open. Luckily Keld hostel has been renovated and is privately run as a lodge now, and seems to get pretty good Tripadvisor reviews.

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  26. Oh, what a wonderful way to enter this quaint place. It's amazing that it's still there and I'm glad it's cared for now.

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  27. You take us to some surprising places and at first I thought I was in Yorkshire. I had to "google map" it to see where it was ... well off the beaten track.
    It's not often that you hear of a church being used as a bunkhouse for railway navvies, a point that would be lost on west coast mainline travellers as their eyes are more attracted to the mountain range horizon beyond. Not sure if I've passed this or not on the way from the M6 to a mountain walk at South West Haweswater.

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Hi - thanks for dropping into A Bit About Britain. New material is now being posted to www.bitaboutbritain.com and most of the material here will gradually be updated and moved over to that new site. Please drop in there, click on the blog page, and take a look round. TTFN - Mike.